Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Every Time We Say Goodbye

Listening back to Howard Bentham's farewell announcement on BBC Oxford, I heard him dwell on all the things he promised he wouldn't dwell on, and do many of the things he suggested were not his style. His listeners would have inferred what he implied, and I'm not sure it was a good move for his long term career.

It used to be the case that many last shows didn't happen. If management had decided you'd committed a sin or your contract was not to be renewed, you turned up next day to be whisked quietly aside to be told you wouldn't be appearing on the radio again any time soon. Partly because macho management liked a quick drama; and partly because they feared what you might say when you opened you mouth.

Now, I detect last shows are being tolerated, whether or not the leaving is at the presenter's behest. Not least because listeners can, and do, challenge stations when presenters move on. They usually form the view that management don't know what the hell they are doing; and convey that in rather fewer characters on social media. Sometimes four is sufficient. They are always on the side of the presenter, given if they didn't listen they wouldn't care.

Similarly, presenters now continue to live on social media after their last show, so will be able to give their tupennorth there should they wish, notwithstanding any post contract restrictions. On-air, at least there can be some agreement  between presenter and management about what is said and how.

Of late, we have heard Janice Long in tears- - and Alex Lester ended in reflective mood. Brian Matthew demanded a valedictory show. As I left Trent it was very much a case of embarrassing tears.

Chelsea's lovely Key 103 farewell was a real 'farewell to a lifetime friend at the train station' moment, as listeners correctly point out, they'd grown up with her. In the most under-stated, yet beautiful farewell, Alice Arnold simply croaked on her last word - and that Terry Wogan farewell is still played as an outstanding piece of radio.

If we believe that presenters become friends to listeners, and I could talk for hours on that topic and lean on reasonable evidence, then it seems to me rude not to allow them to say farewell. And, with social media  crusaders, the station will get harangued for doing otherwise anyway.

To my knowledge, as a PD, I didn't ever forbid a final show (maybe just one!) even though I knew some folk were more than a little annoyed about their imminent demise. I find usually that if you trust presenters, they reciprocate. I can name many who had been on the wrong end of the difficult conversation who took it with huge professionalism and generosity to their successor. They have gone on to other jobs and enjoyed a continuing career elsewhere.

But, if you are going to be afforded the privilege of saying goodbye, even though many listeners may not care you are off, then you should behave honourably.

Remember you are addressing your listeners. If you want to address your bosses, just wander over and shout at them. You don't need a transmitter.  When you have a go at your bosses, it feels to a listener like when they pop round to stay at their friends' house who then have a marital row.  It is uncomfortable.

And remember too, your demise is likely not the fault of the person taking over from you.

Whatever you feel in your heart, show the professionalism for which you were hired and the professionalism which will get you another gig.

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1 comment:

  1. IMHO he should have dialled back on the nasty, and not been hypocritical about dirty laundry in public.

    Secondly, there was a sentence of such extraordinary length in there! A professional broadcaster who came out with a sentence construction like that needs to revisit his training manuals. It's the sort of phrasing a gossiping woman would use to bitch to her friend with.

    Awful.

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